Prof.Appa Rao Podile, Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad has been selected for the highly prestigious J C Bose Fellowship of Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (GoI). The fellowship is given in recognition of the outstanding performance of Prof.Podile in the area of plant-microbe interactions in general and induced resistance in plants in particular. Podilehas made significant contributions in three closely related areas of research that revolve around the recognition of pathogen-derived molecules by plants that activate defence response and contribute to improved health/yield. The early contributions are on the use of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) for improving plant growth and yield besides controlling diseases, while the others are on non-host resistance (NHR) and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) triggered immunity (PTI) in plants.

The J C Bose Fellow will receive a fellowship amount of Rs. 25,000/- pm and a research grant of Rs. 15 lakhs per annum and is provided initially for a period of 5 years. The fellowship can be extended beyond five years based on performance during the first five year tenure.

Podilehas developed a concept to use chitinolytic bacteria that attack the rigid cell wall of fungal pathogens for control of fungal diseases and also as PGPR. With the support from Department of Biotechnology (DBT), GoI, the nominee made an in-depth study of the molecular aspects of PGPR and groundnut plant interactions using ‘omics’ approaches. Podile has been a pioneer to work on a PAMP from a phytopathogenic bacterium in India. He has made a few significant contributions in understanding the unique features of the harpin protein by encapsulating it in chitosan nanoparticles. The chitosan nanoparticles improved the bioavailability of the harpin by releasing the harpin steadily over an extended period. A patent entitled “Biopesticide compositions comprising stable harpin-loaded chitosan nanoparticles and methods thereof” has been filed.

Podile’s group also analyzed the biological activity of enzymatically generated long-chain chito-oligosaccharides(CHOS) in rice plants, with the support from European Union under FP7 grant. In parallel, his group made notable contributions that substantiated the knowledge about transglycosylationactivity of chitinases, as it was valuable in generating long-chain CHOS from the shorter building blocks. Nominee has designed and developed a bio-process for the large-scale production of long-chain CHOS.

Podile, although is Vice Chancellor, continues to have a group of 10 researchers (three post-doctoral fellows and seven PhD. Students) working on plant-microbe interactions. He has published more than 100 original research papers. His work was recognized and honoured by five major science academies like Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Association of Microbiologists of India.